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Oceans Wide

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This is Oceans Wide, my Round 1 entry to the 2014 Audio Deathmatch, Group O.

This song started as a fragment of an idea. After having recently lost all my files, I wanted to join the ADM to see how I'd bounce back from such a loss. That, and I'm writing this in the midst of very turbulent times. I present to you a rather personal song, one that I feel is appropriate for my current struggles, when like Saint Peter in his earthly life, I sometimes feel I'm sinking beneath the waves.

Mixing orchestral sounds with synths and jazz organs is something I drew from having played too much Suikoden IV. The game's connection to the sea is part of my inspiration for this piece. Other connections include the gospel passage where Jesus walks on water, Saint John of the Cross' "dark night of the soul," Scala (or is it Skala?) and the Kolacny Brothers, and my own spiritual darkness. (Mouthful.) With the possible exception of Amor Vincit Omnia, this is probably my most PlayStation 1-esque song yet.

@etherealwinds is listed as a tester here because he asked close to the middle of Round 1 if he could listen to the work in progress. Since he and I were in different groups, I allowed him to listen.

With the exception of the chimes and tambourines, which are part of Versilian's Miscellania 2 VST, the other instruments are soundfonts... and my vocals.



Are you going out to sea alone?
Are you sailing off to fight the demons of the deep?
Strong winds to the left of you,
and heavy rain to the right of you--
still know that I am here.

Are you setting off to somewhere new?
Are you heading westward, with your sails torn apart?
When you fear being overwhelmed
as darkness casts its terrible spell,
still know that I am here.

The oceans wide will never change my love for you,
So come and walk towards me in faith and love.
Never fear: though the wind may be against you,
My hand will always be there to lead you home,
Through oceans wide...

I see you waiting for just a little light;
I see you searching in the dark, still screaming in the night.
If you should see through all unease
and listen to the gentle breeze,
you'll know that I am here.


Used in this project:

Akai-Steinway III soundfont, by Denis.

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This is a NGADM Round 1 review.

Your Score Breakdown:
Production: 20/30 (includes vocal performance)
Composition: 24/30 (includes lyric writing)
Instrumentation: 11/15
Originality: 9/10
Emotion/Interest: 13.5/15

Total Score 77.5/100 or 7.75/10 or 4/5 stars.

Compositionally, this song was quite nice. Strangely it reminded me of the main theme of Civilization IV (Baba Yetu) once the xylo came in (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQfa5E1o_tc). It wasn't extraordinarily well composed, but it didn't need to be. Everything just kinda fit in very well. I might suggest adding more mid-ground elements such as cellos or clarinets or some brass, to help out or to contrast the viola staccatos.

I enjoyed the lyrics and the performance quite a bit. However, there were a few points where consonant endings were not together. Don't forget about how long notes should hold- endings are as important as beginnings, even at a note-per-note level!

As has been the case for a time, you will be constrained quality-wise by the quality of your samples. Under that constraint, I think taking the videogamey feel was a great move. There's a lot you can do with soundfonts, but they are still limited compared to what modern samplers or live work can do.

There's a lot of mixing stuff you might want to try out. First off, I found the backing vocals around 1:12 to be quite weak. Either make them louder, or record a bunch more tracks so it sounds like a full choir (an effect I LOVE to do). I could really hear a full choir backing up the vocals in this, like in the aforementioned Baba Yetu.

The staccato strings are a bit quiet, they get eaten up by the rest of the song quite easily. The bass instrument is almost inaudible for me. I might recommend considering an electric bass instead of an arco bass, to give it a more bite and accent the attacks, which are great.

My biggest suggestion regarding the mixing of the vocals is to try adding some more of the fundamental harmonic using EQ, but some other things that might help is singing closer to your mic. All microphones to some extent feature something called the Proximity Effect, in which when it is close to the sound source, it picks up more bass frequencies, while when further away, it gets weaker and more tinny. Something to also consider eventually is upgrading your microphone to a large diaphragm vocal condenser mic and an audio interface at some point, but I believe working hard with effects and EQ will really bring out all the nice things in your voice much more, like oil on wood. Right now it sounds the same way the wood looks after the first coat and it has seeped in and hasn't changed much. Keep applying layers and carefully crafting the timbre of the voice until it shines like a well-oiled table. Keep experimenting to find ways to add more presence and power to vocals, as right now you seem far away and weak. :)

Keep compos(ed/ing)!

This is an NGADM Round 1 Review.


Oh man, Trois. Your composition just makes me wish I could overlook the mixing issues but for the sake of the contest I unfortunately can't! I'll start with the good stuff; your melodies and harmonies are among the best in Round 1. You have an extremely sensible command over composition. One thing I really enjoyed about the composition would be how at 1:10 you modulated downwards to a lower key, and then at 2:22 you DIDN'T modulate, and this is actually very clever. Most people would save their modulation for the actual climax and modulate to a higher key for a more climactic effect, but instead you modulated the *foreshadowing* of the climax downwards, which is one thing I really appreciated about the composition. Your singing is pretty much on point, with the exception of vocal harmonies being out of time (etherealwinds makes a very good suggestion on that). No re-recording is necessary. Just play around with slicing up the audio files and automating volume!

The instrumentation is very nice. I mean, I hear some samples that you consistently use in lots of your tracks, like that xylophone (something which really makes me feel bad because my composition can't lift a finger on yours and I have all the sounds I can ever dream of), but I also hear some really nice use of instruments such as the staccato strings combined with the xylophone that gives a lovely sense of motion, or the creative usage of the jazz organ and synths which give this track a dream-like quality. Where this track flops, as I'm sure you know, is the production. For starters, it's too quiet. I also think there's too large of a dynamic range. A dynamic range is good thing to have but can be a double-edged sword, since even when I turned my volume up really high I struggled to hear the intro! Plus, even then I think the intro has lots of movement, and would sound better as a mezzo forte. Apart from that, the mix is too thin, the vocals sound a little tinny, the xylophone stands out unnaturally, the oboe (?) has artificial-sounding staccato and the last note would sound better faded out since your release tail sounds kind of iffy.

I know you know your mixing needs work and I wish you only the best to improve. If you need any kind of mixing advice, I am FAR from an expert but I could try and give some pointers. Mix aside, wonderful job with the track. Well-deserved win.

SCORE: 8.4/10

Oh man, how did I miss this one? Lovely as always; I can recognize your sound from a mile away! Quite possibly your best work in terms of composition and singing performance. The production is still a little dodgy, but you're definitely showing signs of improvement. All the best in the tournament!

This is Was Pretty.
The Singing is Awesome. I Enjoy the Singing. I also like the Lyrics as well. This Track's Theme is really enjoyable and Wonderful. This is Going to set An Example for the other Songs that will Follow.
Overall this is a Charming and Wonderful song. I did enjoy it. Awesome job

Troisnyx responds:

I'm grateful that you think this song will set a precedent for other upcoming ones... thank you. Often I find myself sinking beneath the proverbial waves, but reading your thoughts on this song (and others', very carefully) changes that.

I can go to bed thanking the good Lord for this piece, even if I struggled through it.

I think etherealwinds is on to something here. I downloaded your piece out of curiosity and analyzed the phase and just to mess around with the frequencies. The beginning does sound like it's in mono but it really just gives that illusion because the combination of too much mids and most everything is panned to the left. The instrument you have on the right isn't very present and so it's just out of balanced, and I would have the bass more centered. The piece sounds much better mix wise when I make the low frequencies more present via the EQ. What microphone are you using? The piece sounds much more full at 2:23 and beyond. But I do like the mallets.
That being said, the composition and your lyrics are gorgeous. When I get passed the mixing issues, I really don't get tired of this. Your singing is great, and I like the progression you have going. The different parts that you have the instruments play in the last quarter of this piece is great to listen to.
Besides the mixing sounding a bit narrow, you have a lot of good ideas. I like the drive this piece has—very uplifting in a sense. I have to admit that despite its flaws, this is quite alluring, and I can't quite put my finger on why. Perhaps it's the combination of your lyrics, singing, and progressions that really makes this piece. I hope this was constructive for you. Mixing will come in time, and I have to admit that after composing something we are left with little time to mix within the 2 week span. I hear a lot of mixing issues in my piece as well so don't get discouraged.

Troisnyx responds:

Eh, thank you! Constructive as it gets! ^_^

The mic I'm using is a Samson Go (which, as Step said once to me in a previous review of his dating back to last year, is a bit of a high-pass filter). It's good for vocal clarity; downside is that it cuts out the basses. Boosting lower frequencies on Audacity gave me no joy, and I'm scared of even touching low-pass filters for fear that the recordings sound..... just.... wrong.......

Strangely, if I record a bodhrán on said mic and boost the basses, I have no trouble with it at all. So I kinda don't know how to tame this mic just yet.

Trouble with a lot of my pieces, I'll readily admit, is my mixing. No matter how much time I have, either the instruments blast out of control through the speakers or headphones, or the bass sounds tinny, or the voices sound tinny, or something or other. But I really, really want to learn -- and I suppose these reviews are a start.

Thanks again -- you've helped me a lot.

Credits & Info


4.52 / 5.00

Aug 16, 2014
10:53 AM EDT
File Info
4.2 MB
4 min 33 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.